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Frostbite should be treated quickly

Posted: Friday, December 17, 2004

The following frostbite information was taken from the Centers for Disease Control Web site www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/winter/guide.asp#frostbite.

Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing and causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. Frostbite can permanently damage the body and severe cases can lead to amputation.

The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people not dressed properly for cold temperatures.

At the first signs of redness or a painful skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin. Other signs of frostbite include a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, and numbness.

If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care. Because frostbite and hypothermia both result from exposure, first determine whether the victim also shows signs of hypothermia. Hypothermia is a more serious medical condition and requires emergency medical assistance.

If there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows: Get into a warm room as soon as possible (unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes - this increases the damage); immerse the affected area in warm water (the temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body); or warm affected area using body heat; do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all; and don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, heat from a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming as affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

These procedures are not substitutes for proper medical care. Knowing what to do is an important part of protecting your health and the health of others.

Taking preventive action is your best defense against frostbite when dealing with extreme cold-weather conditions.



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